Shipsterns Bluff in Tasmania has been announced as the location for this year’s Red Bull Cape Fear Challenge. The event has previously been held at Cape Solander, better known as Ours, south of Sydney. This year contest organisers Mark Mathews and Ryan Hipwood—both some of the best big wave slab specialists in the world—have relocated it to Tassie at one of the heaviest slabs in the world.

The waiting period opens today, August 1, and runs until December 31. Given the abundance of lows marching their way up from the south pole and the five-month waiting period on offer, there’s no doubt this one will run. Cape Fear has been a notoriously fluky event to run. From death defying closeouts in 2016 when Justen ‘Jughead’ Allport suffered some of the most horrific wipeouts imagined to event organisers having to abandon the event in 2017 for a lack of XXL swell and ideal conditions.

Shipsterns won’t suffer that problem. The only issue will be a logistical one, with contest organisers, event officals, media, surfers and spectators needing either a two-hour hike or 20-mile boat ride to the channel to reach it.

Thankfully a lack of WSL sanctioning has meant that invitees make for a roll call of some of the most exciting slab specialists plus a couple of wildcards. From hard charging locals like Tyler Hollmer-Cross, Marti Paradisis and Michael Brennan to Red Bull team riders Mick Fanning, Ross Clarke-Jones, Jamie O’Brien and Kai Lenny. Hawaiian big wave standouts Nathan Florence and Billy Kemper are also in the mix. While 2016 event winner and new addition to the WSL Big Wave World Tour, Russell Bierke returns to competition and underground charger Laurie Towner who has been blowing up in 2018 with his appearances at huge Cloudbreak and Nias.

Depending on the conditions, the event will feature either paddle, tow or both as options for competitors — just as we saw in the 2016 event. With some of the world’s best big wave assassins in the mix at one of the heaviest slabs on the planet expect something special to go down. However, we’re most intrigued by a certain 3x world champion’s inclusion.

Mick Fanning has visited the frigid Tasmanian waters before, towing serious sized Shipsterns with Mark Mathews in 2015, describing it as, “the funnest day ever.” If navigating the drop from a three-story building, with boiling steps and dealing with unimaginable hold downs is Mick’s idea of retirement then the mind boggles what’s next. We know Mick’s been busy on The Search with Mason Ho and has swapped out his high-performance thruster for a twin fin and now we can’t wait to see what he does at one of the craziest waves on the planet.


Russell Bierke (AUS)
Pedro Scooby (BRA)
Daniel Griffiths (AUS)
Michael Brennan (AUS)
Mick Fanning (AUS)
Laurie Towner (AUS)
Shaun Wallbank (AUS)
Zebulon Critchlow (AUS)
Ross Clarke-Jones (AUS)
Ryan Hipwood (AUS)
James McKean (AUS)
Brook Phillips (AUS)
Jamie O’Brien (USA)
Nathan Florence (USA)
James Hollmer-Cross (AUS)
Marti Paradisis (AUS)
Kai Lenny (USA)
Billy Kemper (USA)
Tyler Hollmer-Cross (AUS)
Alex Zawadzki (AUS)